KPLC Explains How Lightning Leads To Power Outage

  • The Kenya Power Company, popularly known as KPLC, has explained a trend where Kenyans experience power outages when lightning strikes.

    The company explained that lightning is a powerful electrical discharge produced during a thunderstorm caused by imbalances between storm clouds and the ground, or within the clouds themselves.

    "As lightning is finding its way to the ground, it sometimes strikes our power infrastructure increasing voltage to high levels," the firm noted.

    In Kenya, South Nyanza and western regions are more prone to lighting incidents.

    File image of Kenya Power electricians at work
    File image of Kenya Power electricians at work

    KPLC has installed surge diverters to take the extra charge to the ground and safeguard equipment and customer appliances from damage.

    According to the power distributor, proper earthing installation is critical for the surge diverters to be effective. Earthing is the process of transferring the immediate electricity discharge directly to the earth plate by means of low resistance electrical cables.

    However, the firm has reported several cases of vandalized cables. When this happens, the primary equipment installed at the substations automatically disconnects the supply to safeguard the network and customer appliances.

    In extreme cases, lightning strikes can cause fires and damage critical equipment leading to power outages. The company is constantly carrying out field inspections to ensure surge diverters are working effectively.

    "We appeal to customers and members of the public to report any earthing cable vandalism incidences to Kenya power by calling 97771," noted KPLC.

    The firm had also attributed power outages to the rains since they are mostly accompanied by strong winds and as the storms rage, they sometimes snap tree branches or uproot whole trees causing them to fall on power lines disrupting power supply.

    Some people have opted to install lightning arrestors especially in regions prone to lightning.They are devices used on electric power transmission and telecommunication systems to protect the insulation and conductors of the system from the damaging effects of lightning.

    However, failure can occur due to dielectric breakdown, whereby the internal structure has deteriorated to the point where the arrester is unable to withstand applied voltage, whether normal system voltage, temporary power frequency overvoltage or lightning.

    Kenyans can report power outages through the company’s Twitter handle by accompanying the alert with their meter number and close landmark for easy tracing. 

    Kenya Power engineers carry out repairs at a power sub-station in Mombasa County in 2018